Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The personality traits of a big firm lawyer

The online ABA Journal is reporting a study done by the legal consulting firm Hildebrandt that sought to determine the personality traits of big firm lawyers.  According to the study:

The data was collected in late 2009 and early 2010, after waves of law firm layoffs, indicating the sample may have a disproportionate number of high performers, according to a summary of the findings. Associates made up 45 percent of the sample, equity partners 32 percent, and non-equity partners 16 percent. Of counsel and others accounted for the remainder.

. . . .

[The study found that] on average, the lawyers:

• Generally do not seem to have a strong need for public recognition, although there is a subset of lawyers who seem to crave recognition and notoriety.

• Tend to deal with others in a direct and matter-of-fact way, but may come across as cold, critical and argumentative.

• Tend to be self-critical and temperamental but are also self-aware, open to feedback, and emotionally expressive.

• Are most attracted to environments that emphasize quality and are less commercially focused than professionals in other industries.

• Tend to value education and educational activities.

How is this information valuable? 

One managing partner at a mid-sized firm took the tests and discovered he was in the 99th percentile on one measure.

'Does this mean that I ram stuff home at meetings?' the managing partner asked. 'Do I highjack meetings?' The answer was apparently yes, since others on the firm’s leadership team looked at their shoes as he asked the questions. 'Once this managing partner understood his own personality pattern and its impact on others, he was able to act like less of a tyrannical maniac and more like a benevolent despot,' the report said.

You can read more about the ABA Journal's coverage here and the report itself from Hildebrandt here.



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